Using the (M)OST Model to Create Dashboard Objectives

How to Create SMART Objectives to Make Your Dashboards Actionable

Ryan talks about how mission statements, objectives, strategies and tactics apply to the practice of creating corporate dashboards. You’ll also hear an example of a specific, relevant, attainable, time-bound, and relevant objective that can be used to give you tangible pieces to measure on a dashboard.

The second vital question that I ask going into every project– and this one, frankly, I’m shocked at how often this is overlooked, but it is, what is the measurement of success? And you can word that question in a couple of different ways. I also think of it as, what is the objective of this project?

I have seen too many times where folks in a corporate environment, they get access to Tableau and a database table, and they connect to it and it’s very easy in Tableau to just make anything, point to the data, you start dragging, dropping. That certainly has a value. We’re actually going to talk about that in the very first framework.

But if you don’t have kind of an end goal or objective in mind, how do you know what to look for? You’re just kind of spinning your wheels and making stuff that isn’t actually going to lead to any type of action. So I try to ask this question in the beginning. It also helps me as a consultant very quickly understand a business and kind of get straight to the point of what I need to find.

Because I think of these as objectives, I’m going to share a strategic framework with you. But it’s called the (M)OST Model. And I really like this as a way to guide me to figuring out what the objectives of a project should be. And I apologize in advance. I think every strategic framework for some reason needs to have an acronym. I think that’s a law somewhere.

So this is the first of those. This is called (M)OST, where each letter stands for something in this acronym. The M stands for mission statement. The mission statement is kind of the highest level goal of an organization. Most companies have one, Playfair Data has one. Our mission is to be the best partner resource for turning raw data into valuable insights.

The reason I put this in parentheses is that that shouldn’t change or it should change very, very rarely. You’re not going to go into the CEO’s office and say, hey boss, over the weekend I thought of a new mission statement for the company. It’s most likely kind of set in stone.

The first thing that we do have some control over, though, are the objectives. And that’s the main point of this (M)OST model. I think of objectives as being synonymous with SMART goals. So I already apologized for it. Another acronym. But if you’re not familiar with SMART goals, each letter means something that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. That’s what a SMART goal is.

So we’re not going to change the mission statement, but we do have an opportunity to set some objectives for what the business is trying to do. And therefore, that kind of informs what should be on our dashboards, and what we should be looking for.

One good example of an objective, if I wanted to try to make something tangible and make a SMART goal, I might say something like, we want to increase customer satisfaction by 25% by the end of 2021. So it’s very specific. We can measure whether or not we’re improving customer satisfaction. It’s attainable, it’s reasonable. 25%. It’s relevant to our business and improving our business and it’s time bound. It has some kind of restriction on how much time we have to meet that objective.

The S in (M)OST stands for strategies. These are the general approaches that we take to achieve our objectives. So if we want to do increase our customer satisfaction by 25%, a strategy that we might implement is getting into email marketing so that we can better communicate with our customers. That would be a general strategy.

Then the T in the (M)OST Model stands for tactics. Those are the specific things that we’re doing to achieve our strategies, which are the general approaches that we’re implementing to meet our objectives. So if our strategy was to start doing email marketing, a specific tactic to improve customer satisfaction may be to start a email marketing program that trains our customers on how to use our product. That will most likely improve their satisfaction if they know how to use it.

I love making objectives because, again, it gives me something to work with that’s tangible and actionable. If I know that we’re trying to increase customer satisfaction by 25% by the end of the year, well, there’s a few data points in there that I know that I need at a minimum to put on a dashboard and see how we’re trending against that objective.

If our objective is to increase customer satisfaction by 25%, two things I need to know are how many customers are satisfied today, how many of them were satisfied before, so I could do that measurement. If our time restriction is the end of this year, I need to know the date. I need to know how we’re trending, how much time do we have left. So it’s giving me tangible pieces to work with so that I can create a visual out of it.